CA’s Latinx College Students Make Big Gains, Yet Inequities Persist

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
A new study finds that after six years, fewer than one-third of Latinx community college students are supported to transfer to a four-year college or university. Photo Credit: Abraham / Adobe Stock

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Latinx college students in California made significant gains pre-pandemic – with jumps in college attendance and completion – but a new report says big gaps remain between white and Latinx students, particularly men.

The “2021 State of Education for Latinx in California” report found that in the California State University system, four-year graduation rates for Latinx students have doubled over the past five years. However, Dr. Vikash Reddy, senior director of policy research
with the Campaign for College Opportunity, which produced the report, noted that the percentages are still low.

“But that is still fewer than one in five Latinos,” he said, “and just 29% of Latinas, who are graduating in four years from the Cal State University.”

Only 14% of Latinx adults ages 18-64 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, but that number is likely to improve, since Latinx students make up 43% of public college undergrads in the state. The report also found 89% of Latinx 19-year-olds have a high school diploma or equivalent, but only 44% of Latinx high school graduates met the A through G requirements for UC and CSU.

In higher-ed, 72% of Latinx undergraduate students attend community colleges, so the report said those institutions are key to improving outcomes. Long Beach City College President Mike Munoz said his team noticed low enrollment from two feeder high schools – so they visited the 12th-grade economics and government classes and had all students fill out an application.

“We eliminated the college participation gap from these two high schools,” he said. “We saw a 42% increase in enrollment from these focus schools at Long Beach City College.”

The report also recommends hiring more Latinx college faculty and expanding access to Pell grants for students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, known as DACA.

Support for this reporting was made possible by Lumina Foundation.